I’m a firm believer in relationship building. Children’s ministries see success when they help kids build relationships with God, their families, and one another. Of course we all know why it’s important to have a relationship with God, and more and more often children’s ministries are focusing on family ministry and strengthening relationships inside homes. But what’s the big deal about having kids connect with one another?
Relationships help unlock kids’ understanding of faith by opening their hearts and minds to deeper discoveries through common experiences with their peers. You’re helping to build the church community of the next generation!
With children, though, friendships can be a very fragile thing. One day friends can be BFFs, and the next day they are unfriending each other on social media. I knew two young girls who would constantly fight and make up, telling me they were frenemies. What can you do when you hear kids fighting and ending friendships? Here are three phrases you might hear along with what you can do to save your ministry’s friendships.
1. “You’re not my friend, you’re just a baby! You don’t know what you’re doing!”
A lot of times, older kids can be resistant to the idea of being paired up with younger kids. To help older and younger kids bond, consider doing activities as mixed-age groups. Make sure you have a good mix; not a group with one 12-year-old and five 4-year-olds. Let the oldest kid in each group be the crew’s leader. Give the older kids responsibilities such as reading from the Bible or making sure everyone in their crew gets a turn. (Don’t forget to give the other kids jobs, too!) Click here for some back-to-school lessons, one of which includes a lesson on teamwork.
2. “He’s so weird/gross!”
Most of the time when kids say this, they’re really saying, “This kid is different from me.” This is a great time to help kids understand that God made each of us special. Talk openly with your kids about prejudice, bias, and stereotypes. Don’t increase kids’ self-consciousness by putting them in the spotlight during this time. Don’t constantly point out kids’ differences, but instead focus on how we have different skills that work best when we work together.
3. “I’m too cool for her.”
Need a lesson on humility? Here you go!
WHO’S THE BEST?
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Kids will learn that God loves a heart that loves other people and isn’t proud or boastful.
You’ll need the story “The Big Brag” from the book Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories.
Choose a narrator, a rabbit, a bear, and a worm. Read the story aloud and have the kids act it out. Having them act out the story gives kids a reason to listen to the story. Kids could act out the story a few times, and you could even videotape it and play it for the kids as their parents arrive!
After reading the story, ask: “What’s one thing you’re really good at? What was the rabbit really good at? the bear? the worm? Do you ever talk about the things you’re really good at? Do you talk about them because you’re really excited about them, or do you talk about them to make other people feel jealous? Was the rabbit talking about himself to make the other animals jealous?”
Say: “Jesus was really good at a lot of things. He could walk on water and heal people. He was especially good at miracles, and he was a great teacher! Do you remember any time in the Bible when Jesus bragged about all of the things he could do, or about who his father was? I don’t remember any times in the Bible when Jesus was boastful or proud. Why wasn’t Jesus proud? Do you think that we should be boastful or proud about what we’re good at? Why or why not?
Say: “Our verse for today is Philippians 2:3. It says: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Let’s think about that. This verse is saying that we shouldn’t do things because we’re only thinking of ourselves and what we’ll get as a reward. It’s also saying we should be humble, and that means exactly what it says in the verse—that we should consider others better than ourselves.
How do you help build friendships in your ministry? Let us know using the comment section below!